One of our family’s favorite Christmas movies is The Santa Clause starring Tim Allen. Allen plays the character of Scott Calvin, a divorced father who is a successful business executive in a toy company.
Through a humorous series of events, Calvin is selected to become the next Santa Claus, an idea that seems to him absurd. He has to be convinced that he is, indeed, going to become the next resident of the North Pole.
The majority of the film is devoted to showing the audience how Calvin pro-gressively grows into the Saint Nick job.
This progression is seen not only in the physical transformation of Calvin (i.e. he begins to put on significant belly fat, grows inordinate amounts of facial hair, and develops enormous cravings for all things sweet), but also in his psychological evolution.
He begins to see Christmas less through the lens of turning a profit and more through the lens of blessing children. This shift is most notable in a scene involving Calvin and other corporate executives as they discuss the toy company’s new holiday marketing strategies.
One of Calvin’s associates proposes that the company should market a new toy tank with advertising showing Santa riding on the tank as opposed to a reindeer-pulled sleigh this Christmas.
This idea is just too much for the emerging Santa. Calvin erupts to this thought by saying,
“Well, isn’t that a pretty picture, Santa rolling down the block in a PANZER! Well kids, I certainly hope you have been good this year, cause it looks like Santa just took out the Pearson home. Incoming!”
We laugh at how ludicrous the idea seems and agree with Scott Calvin that the atmosphere of war is out of place with our Christmas celebrations.
Christmas and War seem to be incongruent.
Calvin reeled at the idea, and we probably do also. We, like Calvin, might balk at the image of Santa with the trappings of warfare.
How sacrilegious, then, would we think of someone who wanted to put baby Jesus on top of that tank?
And yet, when we open the pages of the Bible, we see that battle is an entirely appropriate canvas on which to paint our Christmas scenes.
When the second person of the Godhead chose to wrap our weakened flesh around Him in the incarnation it was not because He was going on vacation. He was coming to wage war! Christmas happened to spark a conflict.
The Apostle Paul reminds us,
“when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4 esv)
Christmas came to cause conflict.
But as we read on in the letter to the Galatians, we see who indeed the enemy in this conflict is. It is self, what the Bible refers to as “the flesh.”
Every man, woman, and child from the moment of birth finds himself and herself in the bonds of this ‘self.’
We live to serve our selves and we find ourselves enslaved to the desires of self. (see Gal. 5:16) This enslavement never leads to joy. This is what the baby Jesus came to rescue us from. The enemy in this conflict is “self.”
The stakes in this conflict are death and life! The good news of Christmas is that the baby Jesus grew up! And as a man went to the cross to pay the penalty we incurred from a lifetime of service to self.
He rose again and ascended back to His Father and now reigns supreme, upholding all things by the word of His power (see: Hebrews 1:3).
That means the outcome of the conflict is certain victory for those who swear allegiance to Jesus, for those who see Him as not only a baby but a King – their King.
You may have stooped low this holiday season to fix your baby Jesus just right in your nativity set. But have you bowed your knee to the Jesus who cannot be contained by Heaven or the highest of Heaven?
This is why Christmas happened.
It happened to spark a conflict. And in this conflict, each of us must choose our sides. This is the meaning behind the first Advent of Jesus.
There is coming, however, a second Advent of Jesus.
The first Advent of Jesus was a covert operation. But the second Advent will not happen in a clandestine manner.
Every eye shall see that coming. And when He comes, Jesus will not be riding a Panzer, but a white Stallion!
At this coming, He who was the baby in the manger will prove Himself King of the universe. At this coming, this King will put all wrongs right. At this coming, the rescue will be complete.
The Christmas carol reminds us, “long lay the world in sin and error pinning, till He appeared, and the soul felt His worth.”
Perhaps the question we all need to ask this holiday season is, “Do we, indeed feel His worth?”
The answer to that question will determine where the battle lines are drawn in your life.
Like it or not, we can’t erase conflict from Christmas, but we can join the rescue.